Best Snorkeling Spots in the Galápagos Islands

Awesome snorkeling is enjoyed throughout the Galápagos Islands but these snorkeling spots will blow your fins off!

Not all of these snorkeling spots in the Galápagos Islands are accessible on one itinerary (unless you want to spend about two weeks in the islands) because some are available to travelers on yacht-based cruises, and some are accessible only on a land-based trip. On every trip in the Galapagos, you’re going to be snorkeling at least once a day, and everywhere you go is going to have great snorkeling. But if you can visit just one of these top snorkeling spots on your trip, you’re going to have some amazing marine wildlife encounters!

Los Tuneles (Isabela Island)

Penguins at Los Tuneles, Isabela Island

Los Tuneles is a highlight with its crystal-clear water and calm pools that are perfect for snorkeling. You’ll snorkel through bizarre rock formations, including arches, that were created by the cooling of hot magma as it reached the sea. It is common here to spot penguins, green sea turtles, blue-footed boobies, rays, tropical fish, sea horses, white-tipped reef sharks, and sea lions. The rocky shoreline is also a great place to spot wildlife like blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, colorful Galápagos crabs, and more.

Snorkeling at Los Tuneles can be done only as part of a land-based trip in the Galápagos, staying in Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. Most land-based trips don’t have snorkeling at Los Tuneles on their regular itineraries, as availability can be challenging to get, but it’s usually possible to add on an excursion here.

 

Devil’s Crown (Floreana Island)

White-tipped Reef Shark at Devil's Crown, Floreana Island, Galapagos Islands
White-tipped Reef Shark at Devil’s Crown, Floreana Island, Galapagos Islands

Devil’s Crown has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the top snorkeling sites in the islands. An eroded volcano crater shelters coral reef at its center where you can find a variety of exciting marine life including large manta rays, sea turtles, and white-tipped reef sharks. The currents can be strong but a small boat, a panga, hangs close by to pick you up when you finish snorkeling.

This snorkeling spot can be reached only on a cruise. Many cruises visit Floreana Island but not all stop at Devil’s Crown for a snorkeling excursion. Check the itinerary to ensure you’re chance to snorkel at this fantastic site! Our favorite cruises that snorkel here are the Eric, Letty, & Flamingo Yachts and the Nemo I Sailing Catamaran.

 

Kicker Rock (San Cristobal Island)

Kicker Rock, San Cristobal Island
Snorkeling at Kicker Rock, San Cristobal Island

Snorkeling at Kicker Rock is kick ass! A natural channel in the rocks is home to a stunning array of amazing wildlife, including eagle rays, sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, and — if you’re lucky — you may even spot Galápagos sharks, hammerhead sharks, and dolphins.

Snorkeling at Kicker Rock can be done on a cruise or on a land based trip. But keep in mind that some cruises will just visit Kicker Rock to admire the view, but will not have snorkeling. Other cruises will go snorkeling here. Be sure to read your itinerary! Our top recommendation for a land-based trip is Ecuador Adventure’s Galapagos Multisport Adventure.

On most land-based trips, it’s possible to swap out snorkeling at Kicker Rock for a day of Scuba Diving here instead! It’s an incredible diving site, as you can go deeper along the walls formed by the rocks. The diving is for intermediate and advanced divers, not for beginners, as there are strong currents deeper down. The snorkeling is good for all levels.

 

Bartolome & Santiago Islands

View of Santiago Island from the top of Bartolome Island
Sea Lion, Santiago Island

Fortunately, a lot of trips to the Galápagos include a visit to Bartolome, which means you can get to Bartolome Island by either a cruise or a land-based trip!  Santiago Island is only accessible on a naturalist cruise. The two islands are located right next to each other, and both have great snorkeling!

Bartolome is a great place to see Galápagos penguins. If your timing is good, you’ll be able to watch the colony that lives on the shore take to the sea to go fishing! Bartolome’s beautiful underwater landscape of jagged rocks offers secret passages for schools of colorful fish, Galápagos white-tipped reef sharks, and sea lions.

Santiago Island isn’t much to look at, but the underwater wildlife is incredible. There are curious penguins and sea lions, colorful fish, rays, sharks, and the occasional octopus. The waters are calm and fairly shallow, making the snorkeling easy.

 

Tintoreras (Isabela Island)

White-Tipped Reef Shark at Tintoreras, Isabela Island

Tintoreras is known as the “mini Galapagos” because you can see almost all of the marine wildlife here: Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, and blue-footed boobies. Tintoreras is a  breeding ground and nursery for white-tipped reef sharks, so you will see sharks of all sizes here!

Tintoreras can be visited on a cruise or land-based trip.

 

Recommended Trips

Rated 4.88 out of 5
$4,500$5,600

First-class 20 passenger sister yachts that offer active and very personalized tours due to a small guide to traveler ratio (1 naturalist per 10 travelers). Great guides, great itineraries, great service make these memorable trips, and these are the first boats in the Galapagos to have Stand Up Paddleboards on board. Trip Length: 8 Days Destination: Galapagos Islands Accommodations: 20 passenger, First Class Yacht Activities: Wildlife viewing, naturalist walks, snorkeling, kayaking

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$3,355$3,803

One of the very best active trips possible in the Galapagos Islands, this land-based multisport adventure combines nice accommodations with great guides and equipment and a well-planned itinerary designed to maximize recreation while seeing as much wildlife as possible. This trip is ideal for private groups or families, too. Trip Length: 7 Days Destination: San Cristobal, Isabela, & Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos Lodging: First-class, beachfront Optunia Lodges Activities: Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$1,550$3,695

The Nemo I is a small 14-passenger sailing catamaran that is perfect for adventurous people who want to spend their time in the Galapagos outside on the net between the hulls or on the various common areas. Cabins are quite small, in the pontoons, making a trip on this boat an intimate nature adventure. Trip Lengths: 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, or 15 Days Destination: Galapagos Islands Lodging: 14-Passenger, tourist superior sailing catamaran Activities: Wildlife viewing, naturalist walks, snorkeling

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